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01/14/2014 06:21 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

The Green Lunchbox: Packing An Eco-Friendly Meal

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Packing lunches is part of many parents' weekly routine. And one of the challenges avoiding amount of waste that is left behind. You can teach your child some eco-friendly habits just by taking the time to pack a green lunchbox.

To start your eco-friendly journey, avoid using paper and plastic bags as they cannot be used every day and also wind up in a landfill. You must first ensure that you use non-disposable, reusable lunch containers. There are a variety of options on the market from plastic, canvas, stainless steel, and recycled materials. Stainless steel lunch boxes are easy to wash, avoid accumulating stains and smells, durable and are lightweight. Some even come in divided compartment. If you choose plastic, which would be a last resort option, choose one that is bpa-free.

To add to your growing green lunch box, choose cloth napkins and utensils that kids can return home to be rewashed. There are a variety of reusable cutlery that are made from bamboo, stainless steel, and bpa-free plastics.

For storage of food, kid friendly glass containers are on the market that are great for storing snacks like carrots and trail mixes. There are cotton cloth bags with lining available to store sandwiches and dry snacks. Stainless steel food containers can store sandwiches and pasta as well and stainless steel thermoses can store hot items like soup.

Choosing Optimal Foods for Kids

What your child carries his or her food in is as equally important as what your child eats. Choose fresh, seasonal, local and organic foods when possible. The advantage of organic produce is that it reduces exposure to pesticides, insecticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). You can also purchase snacks in bulk as it reduces the amount of packaging and it saves money.

In addition to food containers, avoid buying juice boxes and pouches as it is another source of waste and oftentimes have too much sugar. Also discontinue purchasing water in plastic bottles. Over 60,000,000 plastic bottles a day are disposed of in U.S. landfills. Purchase a stainless steel, reusable bottle that can be filled with water or any other low-sugar beverage.

By making one or all of these lunchbox adaptations, your kids and the planet will be much healthier, and you'll teach your kids how respecting the environment is just as important as respecting their overall health.

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